Reacting to growing nationwide pushback on Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday recently posted an item in his Doc. H’s Blog dealing with what he claims is:
“…a lot of misinformation being pushed by folks who are not supportive of more rigorous standards for students that will enable our high school graduates to compete on an international level and also achieve readiness for college and careers.”
Unfortunately, Holliday’s blog is mostly a bunch of straw man arguments that don’t jibe with reality. So, a bit of what Paul Harvey used to call “The Rest of the Story” seems in order, because the CCSS actually do have a LOT of baggage.
For starters, you deserve to know that five of the 29 members of the final CCSS Validation Committee refused to sign the report (compare signers’ list near back of report to members listed near front of this report).
One of those who refused to sign off on the CCSS is Dr. Sandra Stotsky, currently a professor at the University of Arkansas. She formerly was an associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education. In that position Stotsky oversaw the implementation of Massachusetts’ superb K to 12 education standards early in this century. They were far better than the CCSS and probably should have become the CCSS. In fact in 2011 testing with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Massachusetts scored at the top in both fourth and eighth grade in both math and reading, a remarkable feat (Determined with NAEP Data Explorer).
Simply put, Stotsky knows real, high quality education standards!
So, consider a few of the many comments in her letter explaining why she would not sign off on CCSS:
• “In my judgment, Common Core’s standards for grades 6-12 do not reflect the core knowledge needed for authentic college-level work and do not frame the literary and cultural knowledge one would expect of graduates from an American high school.”
• “The ‘college and career readiness standards’ that govern all grade-level standards have no discernable academic level; for the most part, they are simply a set of poorly written, confusing, content-empty, and culture-free generic skills with no internally valid organization of their own.”
• “The two English-speaking areas for which I could find assessment material (British Columbia and Ireland) have far more demanding requirements for college readiness.”
• “Based on my experience in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003, where I was in charge of the development or revision of Massachusetts K-12 standards in all major subjects, and on my extensive experience in local government on a variety of committees for different boards, my judgment is that almost every aspect of the process in which Common Core’s standards were developed profoundly violated almost all civically appropriate procedures for the development of what would become a major public document.”
• “Common Core’s standards are an unsound basis for the development of common assessments.”
By the way, Stotsky’s letter somehow never made it into the final report of the CCSS Validation Committee. Neither did another non-signer’s letter from Prof. Jim Milgram. That raises more interesting questions that touch on why Stotsky says the CCSS process, “violated almost all civically appropriate procedures for the development of what would become a major public document.” In most work of this type, letters of dissent are ROUTINELY included in appendices to the report.
I think that about covers the myth that anyone against CCSS is against higher standards. The truth is plenty of real experts in education standards don’t believe CCSS pass muster. I’ll have more in future blogs.